Pineau de Charentes

Here is a drink you might not know much about - Pineau des Charentes.

Let me tell you a little bit about it.

According to legend, in 1589 a winemaker accidentally dropped grapes in to a cask of Brandy and a few years later when returning to the cask it was discovered that a new type of alcohol had been created.

But for many years it was not produced commercially and really only made by families for special occasions.

But as demand for the Pineau des Charentes was growing in 1945 it was given an AOC label and from then on it is governed by a set of legally imposed rules.

Victor Hugo once described it as a veritable nectar of the gods and it is the most prestigious ambassador for the gastronomy of the Poitou-Charente.

The grapes for producing this drink can only be grown on the limestone slopes of the Charente and the Charente-Maritime.

Unlike for example Cognac or Red Wine there are no Premier cru growing areas.

Mostly, the flavour varies according to the individual producers.

Those who make Pineau must use their own cognac and that is why the grapes are largely the same as those used for Brandy.

You are able to get Pineau blanc, rouge and rose.

All grapes are harvested in September and the white grapes are immediately pressed, whilst the red are left to ferment for some hours for colour. The time allowed determines whether it is a rose or a rouge.

Once the grapes are pressed it is blended with cognac and then it is poured into oak barrels and aged.

How long is it aged for? Well, it is from 18 month to up to 10 years.So you can imagine that the prices vary greatly!!!.

So, now you know about something else you might like to take home from your holiday here in the beautiful South-West-France or even drink some yourself.

Where can you find it?

All Supermarkets, local Caves and Wine Shops.

Should you have plenty of time, why not visit one of the local Producers where you will be shown how it is produced and you will be offered a tasting.

Just let me remind you, do as you like as it is your holiday and have loads of fun!!!